“Prestige” tequilas — you know the ones in impossibly tall bottle and with impossibly high prices — are a rapidly growing category, and with El Alto, Patron makes its long-awaited first entry into the category. It’s instantly unusual for being a reposado — albeit one aged in 11 types of barrels, “mostly hybrid barrels of American oak body and French oak heads,” though no one has mentioned for how long it is aged. The name is a reference to the agave used in the tequila, which is grown in the highest part of the Atotonilco El Alto region in the Jalisco Highlands.
There’s no denying the craftsmanship on display here, and as reposados go, it’s easily one of the best I’ve encountered. Light in color, the tequila appears designed to showcase the underlying agave, but it quickly reveals a profound depth that does an amazing job of showcasing both plant and barrel.
The nose is light but invigorating, showcasing a simple and fresh herbaceousness paired with sweeter notes of maple, cinnamon, and some sesame oil. There’s a vein of earth throughout, washing notes of licorice root, polished wood, and mixed greenery over the aromatics.
The palate is actually more of a delight, a slight kick of spice paving the way to more sultry notes of caramel, vanilla, and a touch of fresh fig. The tequila picks up more fruit as it goes, showcasing notes of applesauce and grapefruit, plus a touch of sugar cookie dough. A hint of spun sugar arrives on the finish, pairing well with a grind of white pepper. Sweet and spicy has always been a winning combination, and in this bottling everything works in lockstep. Killer stuff.
80 proof. NOM 1492.